Archive for the ‘Scientific Community’ Category

Information Patterns – very exciting!

December 10, 2007

Science is all about identifying patterns and then representing those patterns abstractly.  Abstract representations allow us to contemplate the properties of a whole class of things, rather than treating each thing on a case-by-case basis.

For example, long ago people noticed that when an object is lifted and released, it falls down to earth.  It doesn’t matter whether the object is a rock or feather or anything else.  All objects exhibit the same pattern of behavior.

The Internet is all about exchanging information.  Certainly we should be able to identify patterns in that vastness of information.  Thus we are challenged to become information “scientists”: identify patterns in information, create abstract representations of the patterns, and then for each particular instance (i.e. each web document) relate it to an abstract representation.  Once we – the community of web designers – start to do this then we will be able to do some exciting very things.  We will, for example, be able to collect all instances of an information pattern and (1) recognize that they are all of the same class of things, and (2) aggregate, manipulate, and massage the information in ways that make sense for that class of information.

Here is an example of an information pattern: Garlic Lowers [Does Not Lower] Cholesterol

Demise of the scientists ethos of sharing information?

September 21, 2007

Prior to 1665, in medieval Europe, scientific knowledge was confined to a secretive exclusive few.

Then, in 1665 the Royal Society published the first issue of its Philosophical Transactions. This was a seminal moment in the history of science, it was the beginning of open access to scientific information. The journal was committed to the idea that all new discoveries should be disseminated as widely and freely as possible.

Today, an increasing share of scientific research and development is funded by corporations. These corporations have an economic incentive in protecting information rather than disseminating it widely.

Example: recently we have seen instances of companies funding studies and then demanding that they be suppressed when the results do not come back to their satisfaction.

The challenge the scientific community faces today is whether it can survive the growing commercialism of scientific endeavors.

— Extracted from The Wisdom of Crowds by James Suroweicki